Repositioning microelectrodes post-implantation is emerging as a promising approach to achieve long-term reliability in single neuronal recordings. The main goal of this study was to (a) assess glial reaction in response to movement of microelectrodes in the brain post-implantation and (b) determine an optimal window of time post-implantation when movement of microelectrodes within the brain would result in minimal glial reaction. Eleven Sprague-Dawley rats were implanted with two microelectrodes each that could be moved in vivo post-implantation. Three cohorts were investigated: (1) microelectrode moved at day 2 (n = 4 animals), (2) microelectrode moved at day 14 (n = 5 animals) and (3) microelectrode moved at day 28 (n = 2 animals). Histological evaluation was performed in cohorts 1-3 at four-week post-movement (30 days, 42 days and 56 days post-implantation, respectively). In addition, five control animals were implanted with microelectrodes that were not moved. Control animals were implanted for (1) 30 days (n = 1), (2) 42 days (n = 2) and (3) 56 days (n = 2) prior to histological evaluation. Quantitative assessment of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) around the tip of the microelectrodes demonstrated that GFAP levels were similar around microelectrodes moved at day 2 when compared to the 30-day controls. However, GFAP expression levels around microelectrode tips that moved at day 14 and day 28 were significantly less than those around control microelectrodes implanted for 42 and 56 days, respectively. Therefore, we conclude that moving microelectrodes after implantation is a viable strategy that does not result in any additional damage to brain tissue. Further, moving the microelectrode downwards after 14 days of implantation may actually reduce the levels of GFAP expression around the tips of the microelectrodes in the long term.
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